Grand Rapids Lions Club Projects
Our members feel privileged to assist in service projects and fundraising events for vision-related charities throughout our community, some of which will impact people and families in countries around the globe. Below are the primary areas where our time and resources are directed.
Blind Dinner Date - Annual Awards Gala
An annual awards banquet and fundraising dinner that raises funds to help children and adults living with severe vision loss live independently, confidently, and with dignity. Funds raised through the Blind Dinner Date provide children and adults with eye care through the Grand Rapids Lions Club Vision Clinic at Cherry Health, help children with special needs through the Eyeglasses Program at KISD, and assist individuals with blindness or severe low vision through the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. More information can be found at the 2018 Blind Dinner Date's event page or Facebook page.
Children's Christmas Shopping
In cooperation with Meijer in Cascade, the Grand Rapids Lions help disadvantaged youngsters do some Christmas shopping for their family. Each participating child is given a budgeted amount of spending money and are assisted by a Lion as they shop. Santa attends this event and spreads some cheer while Lions help the kids wrap their loving purchases. Breakfast is also provided and the Christmas spirit touches all.
Drive For Vision - Annual Golf Outing
Drive for Vision is an annual charity golf outing, now entering it’s 31st year! It is a collaboration between the Grand Rapids Lions Club and Grand Rapids Ophthalmology. Funds raised from this event provide needed vision care in our community.
Each year, the Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired helps over 1,000 family members, friends, and neighbors, who live with blindness or severe vision loss, live more independently. Annually, the Grand Rapids Lions Club Vision Clinic at Cherry Health provides eye care and glasses to over 10,000 fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters helping reduce preventable blindness.
We are grateful for the success of Drive for Vision over the years. Generous support has aided many thousands of people in our community challenged by vision loss. And yet, the need keeps growing. To assist increasing numbers of individuals who have unmet vision needs, we need your help - please click here for information on registration and sponsorship opportunities.
Eyeglass Recycling Center
The Eyeglass Recycling Center – 4282 Brockton SE, Suite D – is where gently-used eyeglasses are sorted, cleaned, measured, and packed for our club’s yearly Mission Vision Clinics. Each year, upwards of 25,000 pairs of used eyeglasses are processed for use during our visits to rural communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Grand Rapids Lions receive assistance in this ongoing recycling effort from other area clubs and volunteer groups across West Michigan.
Grand Rapids Lions Club Vision Clinic at Cherry Health
The Grand Rapids Lions Club Vision Clinic opened its doors on September 12, 2011 in the Cherry Health's beautiful Heart of the City Health Center. The Vision Clinic is able to treat over 9,000 under-served patients in Kent County and neighboring counties. Services include dilated eye exams, diagnosis and treatment of ailments, chronic eye problems, refractions and dispensing of eye glasses, as well as case management services for those with diabetes. Click here for more information.
High School Student Recognition Awards
In May of each year, the Grand Rapids Lions provide a recognition award to two high school students from each of the five GR public high schools, the two Catholic high schools, the Christian high school and East Grand Rapids high school. The award recipients are selected by their respective principal and their guidance counselors. Awards are given for a combination of academic, athletic, and community service excellence. The students, their principal, and top administrators froom Kent County schools join the Lions for a special luncheon for recognition, photo opportunities, and awards.
International Vision Mission Trips
Two or three times each year, a team of up to 25 members of the Grand Rapids Lions Club delivers used eyeglasses – processed in our local facility – to the citizens of Latin American and/or Caribbean countries. Members of these Vision Mission Clinic teams, made up of eye professionals, business leaders, and community volunteers, take a break from their busy schedules to pay their own way and volunteer their time in an effort to bring sorely needed eye care to the citizens of those communities. In each rural location, the team conducts a four-day vision clinic, providing free eye exams, medical referrals, and eyeglasses to the local residents.
VI Sports & Activity Day
In support of, and with grants from, the Children’s Miracle Network and DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids Lions help visually impaired youngsters have an active day of sports activity. Everyone wins a medal and dozens of visually impaired kids smile and warm the hearts of everyone involved.
This event occurs outside as well as in the school gymnasium. The Lions have been involved in this from the beginning and organize the food distribution, drinks, refreshments, barbecue lunch, etc.
White Cane Drive Week
Each year, Grand Rapids Lions, optometrists, opticians, ophthalmologists, and teachers for the visually impaired volunteer their time to collect donations from passers-by at designated locations throughout the community. Thousands of dollars are contributed annually by the generous people of the greater Grand Rapids area. Proceeds are used to fund programs for visually and neuro-visually impaired children between the ages of birth-26 who are eligible for special education services throughout all 20 school districts in Kent County.
The funds also support handheld optical aids that are dispensed to children with visual impairments through the Low Vision Clinic housed at the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. These optical aids are prescriptive devices that allow children to function in a variety of travel and/or education settings to help them read or see near and/or distance. Because these are handheld aids, there is no other source of funding for children who meet the criteria of being legally blind.